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Water Safety - Make It Your Resolve

in Memory of Keith L. Hill

(As most of the LBCA membership is aware, the Hill family suffered a tragic loss due to drowning earlier this summer.  Linda Hill, the surviving wife of Keith Hill composed the following heartfelt appeal for water safety.  May we all increase our resolve to exercise safe practices while enjoying the water.)

In honor of my husband, Keith Hill, I would like to share information with homeowners, their families and guests, in hopes of preventing another swimmer from drowning at Lake Burton.  Although not many have drowned from swimming in Lake Burton, any loss of life is too many.

On June 28, 2020, my husband Keith accidentally drowned in Lake Burton while enjoying a morning swim.  He had climbed down the ladder on his friend’s boat house and went into the water in pursuit of a float which he had thrown into the water ahead of himself. Keith had planned to get on the float and relax in the sun while floating on the water.  He continued to swim to the float and the float continued to drift away.  As he focused on getting that float, Keith swam out about 25 yards and something happened which caused him to drown.  It was a matter of seconds that Keith’s head was above water and then he went under and never resurfaced.  Where his body was recovered, the water was 40 feet deep.  Because drowning happens so quickly, in order to attempt to save a person, one must think and act quickly and have some life-saving equipment readily available on the boat house or dock and within immediate reach.

Some of you may be aware and others not so much, but Lake Burton is a deep lake in some areas.  The depth varies depending on where you are on the lake.  As mentioned above, a swimmer could be 20-25 yards from a boat house and the water can be 40 feet deep which is the depth where Keith’s body was recovered.  The water is approximately 120 feet deep where the dam is located.

Different bodies of water behave differently.  According to the Red Cross website, “Swimming in natural water environments is more challenging than swimming in home pools.”  If you were near a pool and you saw the depth markers, you would think differently about swimming in the shallow side versus the deeper end of the pool.  I believe the same applies to lakes.  You will prepare yourself and mind differently if you were to swim in 10 feet or 20 feet or 40 feet, even if you are considered a seasoned swimmer.

Here are my recommendations:

  • Each homeowner should determine the depth where you and your families and friends recreate on the lake and post the depth on their boat house.  I am a believer that if we know the depth of the water, we will make different decisions about how to prepare ourselves when swimming in Lake Burton.

  • Water depth greater than 7 feet should make one consider wearing a life jacket or flotation device while in the water. 
    Each homeowner should consider water safety training. The American Red Cross offers courses which you can find on their website and here is the phone number:  1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

  • Each homeowner should inform their guests when visiting their boathouse where life-saving equipment is located and phone numbers to call during emergency situations.

  • Each homeowner should keep emergency safety items securely stored on their boathouse in a waterproof container labeled “for emergency use only”.  Recommended items in the container:  a lifeguard rescue tube 40-inch ($58.99), a universal buoyancy life jacket (adult) ($50.16), life ring with 50-feet floating line -Cal-June Approved Ring Buoy ($50.43), air horn ($30.31), flash light ($29.99), whistle ($2.99), distress flag ($13.89) and important phone numbers in addition to 9-1-1. (i.e. Department of Natural Resources).  I am calling this kit the “Keith Hill Water Safety Kit".

Let’s do our part in keeping each other safe while enjoying Lake Burton.

Linda Hill


Mrs. Hill suggests that everyone on Lake Burton purchase and have available the items below in their "Keith Hill Water Safety Kit":

  Life Guard Rescue Tube (choose orange color)

  Life Ring (attached to 50 feet of floating line)

  Universal Adult Buoyancy Flotation Swimming Life Vest

  Air Horn (to signal for help)

   Shoreline Distress Flag

  Safety Whistle

  Super Bright LED Spotlight Flashlight

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